Sarah, Wanangwa, Lusayo

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Wanangwa, Sarah, and Lusayo

On Dec. 6, 2013, a car accident in Zimbabwe claimed the lives of three members of Young Life’s staff: Sarah Adams, Wanangwa Sanga and Lusayo Mhango. Two others were injured, including Evans Chintedza, who was in critical condition and has had a long road to recovery since the accident. The following is a tribute to the lives and legacy of these three remarkable people whom we have lost but will never forget.


EVERYDAY LOVE CHANGING EVERYDAY LIVES
SARAH ELIZABETH ADAMS 

Sarah Adams lived a life of steadfast love and deep commitments. Sarah’s love for family and friends was epic. “Sarah was a great friend,” remembers her mother, Jan Adams. “She made people feel as though they were special to her. And they were.” Mphatso Sanga remembers the night before her wedding when Sarah hosted her and her bridesmaids. “She also organized my hen party and spoiled me silly! Then on my bridal shower there weren’t enough chairs so the whole time she sat on the floor. Sarah was like the living Gospel.” 

Serving in a staff role with Young Life Africa since November 2012, Sarah combined her love and compassion for children, her larger-than-life personality and her drive to make a difference. Having first visited Africa during a summer mission trip to serve in an orphanage, Sarah never lost her commitment to orphans. She became part of the lives of the children at Samaritan’s Trust, an orphanage in Blantyre, Malawi, organizing movie nights and sleepovers, and inviting others in the Young Life community (including supporters in the United States) to get involved as well. 

But it was in her role with Young Life that Sarah was perhaps most at home. “She was the glue on our Young Life Malawi team,” said Steve Larmey, Young Life’s senior vice president of Africa. Sarah not only drew people together, she also invited people into service, organizing work crews from the United States to help prepare for and support Young Life camps. As a volunteer field hockey coach at St. Andrews International School in Blantyre, Sarah earned the admiration and respect of the school community; at the time of her death she was preparing to start the first-ever Young Life club at the school.

For a person with such a big personality and impact, Sarah had a simple life motto: Everyday Love Changing Everyday Lives. In fact, her “everyday love” spanned two continents and has left a lasting impact on countless lives. 


A DREAM THAT LIVES ON
WANANGWA SANGA 

Steve Larmey remembers Wanangwa for his “infectious enthusiasm and passion. He was a person you wanted to be with.” Mphatso Sanga, his wife of less than a year, described Wanangwa as “the type of guy who could come to a room full of people and in three minutes he will have you laughing and dancing. He loved people so much. He was the type of person who could pray for you in the middle of the street.”

Wanangwa was also a visionary. With a degree in architecture from the University of Malawi, he could have chosen a more lucrative career. But his hope was in something greater for the young people of Malawi. In the early morning hours of Dec. 6, 2013, Wanangwa had a dream of sacrifice and of hope. Unable to sleep and away from home at a gathering of the Senior Africa Leadership Team (SALT) in Zimbabwe, Wanangwa called Mphatso, at home in Malawi. “In his dream, he saw himself in a dry and desolate land,” Mphatso later recalled, “a desert with no life or growth. He looked up and saw heaven open and down came a rope. And he heard a voice say, ‘I will make all of this green and bear abundant fruit. And I will heal the land if you will grab this rope.’” In this dream, Wanangwa shared with Mphatso, he had grabbed the rope and then two others, including his best friend and Malawian staff colleague, Lusayo Mhango, grabbed hold as well. As the three were pulled upward, the dream ended. When he finished relaying the dream, Wanangwa concluded that grabbing the rope meant making greater sacrifice — more holiness, more commitment, more laying down his life. He was willing to say “yes” to this new challenge, Wanangwa told his wife during that early morning phone call, and she said “yes” with him.

As she thinks of her last conversation with Wanangwa, Mphatso Sanga now understands the call to “grab this rope” in a way that she could not have understood on that December morning. She knew then that the promise of renewal for kids in Malawi was inextricably bound to great commitment and personal trials. But of course she did not know what suffering lay ahead, for her, for Chimwemwe, for the family of Sarah Adams, for Evans.

In the months following the accident, Mphatso has continued to say “yes” to Wanangwa’s hopeful vision, gradually assuming greater leadership roles with Young Life in Malawi. Mphatso now serves as area director in Lilongwe, Malawi, where ministry is thriving. 


HE WOULD NOT LET YOU GO ASTRAY
LUSAYO MHANGO

Lusayo Mhango was a perfect complement to his visionary, charismatic friend Wanangwa. He “was gifted, articulate, steady and incredibly humble,” remembers Steve Larmey. To Mphatso Sanga, Lusayo was that person who had earned the right to take you aside and speak truth into your life. “Lusayo was like a brother,” she remembers, “He was the one person who could scold me. He would not let you go astray.”

And like his friends Wanangwa and Sarah, Lusayo was deeply committed to the ministry they shared. Chimwemwe Mhango, Lusayo’s bride of just over a year at the time of the accident, describes her husband’s determination to get on with his ministry even as he was trying to complete his university degree. “He said, ‘You know I’m going to finish my degree but I don’t think I’m going to use it because I don’t think that’s what God wants me to do.’ That determination moved me so much.” 

That determination now lives on in the ongoing ministry to which Chimwemwe has dedicated herself. “Young Life was Lusayo’s calling,” said Chimwemwe in talking about her decision to take on an administrative role for Young Life’s ministry in Malawi. “Something had to be done in order for the ministry to move on.” For Chimwemwe, the turning point in stepping into her late husband’s legacy came when she, Mphatso and others had to lead three weeks of Young Life camp in late August. “We were overwhelmed,” she remembers, “but we pulled everything together — all by the grace of God. Now the leaders have stepped up, people are trying to find their positions, and God has been amazing.”

Chimwemwe’s final thoughts perhaps capture this moment in a painful journey of losing and embracing the legacy of three remarkable people. “We miss them,” she said. “We miss their support. We are trusting.”


To learn more about or support the ongoing work of Young Life in Malawi, go to: 

africa.younglife.org — Here you’ll find current information about Young Life in Malawi and throughout Africa, as well as a tribute page honoring Sarah, Wanangwa and Lusayo.

sarahadamsfoundation.org​ — This site has been established to honor Sarah’s memory and to invite support for the causes about which she cared so deeply. The site carries Sarah’s life motto: Everyday Love Changing Everyday Lives​​​​​​​